As someone who has little to no interest in fashion and typically chooses outfits by whatever’s at the top of my clothes drawer, I am endlessly fascinated by the concept of People Who Care About Clothes. Although I, like any other, am more than capable of identifying a slay fit—look, I’ve even got the slang down!—I am held back by the shackles of Time. If I took the time out of my morning to put together an outfit, I wouldn’t have any time left over in the evening to write terrible fanfiction. And what a tragedy that would be.
However, following my impulse as an academic that seeks to understand what I do not, I embarked this month upon a quest to uncover all the secrets to being a fashionable individual at the University. As it turned out, this mostly involved cornering a bunch of radio e-board members and interrogating them about their fashion choices. (I’ll take a moment here to plug WRUR, our on-campus radio station and my favorite club here at the University. If you’re a music nerd looking for community, this is the place!)
Without further ado, here are some things I learned.
1. The best finds come from the bins.
This was a common thread throughout my interviewing. Juniors George Mechalke, Molly Goonan, and Jay Kinde (pictured above) all attributed parts of their outfits to “the bins.” Initially I assumed they were all just rifling through trash bins for clothes, but further research revealed “the bins” actually refer to the nearby Goodwill Clearance Center, where items are found in large bins and sold by the pound at incredible discounts. My academic brain, ever eager for more knowledge, finds this fascinating.
George (right), as it turns out, was rifling through trash anyway. He tells me his pants were “found on the side of the road in a garbage bag.” Following a request for elaboration, he explains that he saw bags of clothes on the roadside while driving to work during the summer. The bags were still there when he drove back six hours later, so he took them. While I may never understand such drastic fashion-motivated action, I respect the dedication to the craft.
2. Leech outfits from your elders.
Sitting in the WRUR conference room, Molly (left) gives me the rundown on her outfit. “This belt is my mom’s,” she tells me. “I stole it.”
She also informs me that her vest and pants were purchased for her from the bins by recent alum Sara Whittemore (‘23), per a special request made during intermission for a student production of the classic play You Can’t Take It With You. I, too, was in this production. I don’t remember what I was doing during intermission, but maybe I should have been getting Sara Whittemore to purchase clothes for me.
Meanwhile, senior Renée Taillie (right) added a pinch of dad energy to this old outfit of hers by using a special cheat code called wearing her dad’s flannels, paired with “pants from Walmart” and “chains from Hot Topic.” (I am deeply impressed with her ability to remember where her clothes came from. As far as I can remember, mine just appeared in my drawer one day. I choose not to ask questions.)
Finally, Jay doesn’t know who originally owned his sweater (which he purchased at a church sale when he was 11), but claims it was “definitely probably” somebody’s grandpa’s.
3. Be you!
One of the lovely things about this university is its infinitely unique student population, and by no means is this a complete summary of Rochester student fashion. People just kind of wear whatever they want. Jacob Greenberg ‘26 has a signature hat (right) that he wears around campus, and I’ve seen more bellbottoms in my year and a half on this campus than I ever thought I would see in our post-disco society. On top of that, the U of R is incredibly queer-friendly—in news that is surprising to no one, our gender-diverse population has all the best fits. Even as a cis guy, I’ve worn a skirt out and about on campus and literally no one cares. It’s awesome.
All in all, if you’re looking to diversify your wardrobe, college is the best time to experiment. Go thrifting, borrow something from your parents, or take something from a trash bag from the side of the road if you’re so inclined. You’ll only get to live these years once.
Meanwhile, I (pictured left at my least boring) will retreat back to my room and bask in the comfort of my eleven identical winter shirts. Different strokes for different folks, or something like that.